Life With Elderly Parents.

I was listening to some podcasts recently about the perimenopause and menopause. It was so interesting and relatable but one woman`s comment really hit the nail on the head. She referred to the menopausal years as the “Frantic Forties and Fifties”, where life just goes insane on so many levels whilst we face the onslaught of hormones going bonkers all at once causing a myriad of symptoms!

What she was referring to is a time in our lives when some of us really don`t feel that great (some do I know, and sail through to the final menopause stage) and are wanting time to deal with and process all these new, sometimes scary symptoms yet we may have so much else going on that we can`t or maternally put others first. It may be teens or marriage problems but one that really resonated with me, especially in the last month with my own experiences and listening to friends of a similar age, is that of the worry of elderly parents. It really is a double whammy.

And here`s why it resonated…..

My parents live in the UK and I, as you know, am here in Australia. When we emigrated back in 2004, they seemed so young in their mid-sixties. We didn`t even give the future a thought. Them coming to visit every year was always going to happen, and it did, every Christmas for fourteen years. Last Christmas was the last however as the journey has just got too hard and they are now 80 and my Dad has a multitude of health issues. This has brought a huge amount of feelings to the surface. I find myself thinking about them constantly. What will happen to them? Will they get a terminal illness? Will it be sudden? When will it happen? Who will be there? Well certainly not me!

Guilt is beginning to set in. Were we selfish to emigrate? My brother is dealing with everything and has even moved back to the village they live in. Hospital appointments, operation after care, the frustration it brings my parents and dropping in on them every day to check they are ok. I do know if I were to up sticks and go home for these final years, it would probably really upset them. It has crossed my mind but then I don`t want them to be upset or feel a burden. Which of course they are not. But it doesn`t stop the guilt I have and the toll it is taking on my brother. I sometimes hear it in his voice. I talk about it openly to him and he says not to think like that, but I do. I wonder if others feel the same and ask themselves if they made the right choice back in the days when life was simple and their parents were healthy as they boarded that plane to a new life. I think they probably do.

Two friends called me this month with news on their elderly parents. One call left me in a panic that I to could face a similar call to the one she received and the other left me feeling that guilt again. Both friends were in their own kind of grief.

The first call was from a friend who did the opposite to me and emigrated from Australia to the UK. It was a Saturday morning and she received a call to say that her Mum had suddenly passed away. Completely out of the blue, no warning signs. By the Monday she was here with her family to farewell her Mum. I dread this call. I may not receive it, an illness may take me home prior, but I could and maybe twice. This really bought it home to me. My passport and that of my daughters is always up to date. It`s not as if we can get in the car and drive to where we need to be. It`s a 24-hour flight !! Why did we go so far again? Selfishly it was so good to see my friend but so bitter sweet.

The second was from my crazy, gorgeous friend here who I can say absolutely anything to and she me. We laugh, we cry, we listen, we tell each other to shut up (or worse !) , we share hot flush stories and she calls me her “comfortable pair of old slippers” I love that. We are both from the UK but live here. She was full of anger, frustration and sadness that day. A year ago, she was loving life to the max, kids had left home, and they had bought a smaller house near the city. Think cafes, bars, restaurants, theatre. She had dreamed of this time. But then her Mum began to deteriorate and was eventually taken into a home and her dad is lost without her. She goes from work, to the home, makes sure her Dad has company, food, shopping etc. “I feel like I`ve got two toddlers” she wailed. It had been a bad week. I listened, I soothed but I knew she was feeling what many do, including my own brother. Yet I am too far away to share the appointments, the checking and the sadness of watching them age. I am a once a week Skype chat now, no more visits from them, no idea when I shall next get home to the UK and the elephant is always in the (Skype) room of when we shall see each other again. Because we dont know.

So, I am left pondering what to do. Perhaps there is nothing I can do but keep up the contact as much as possible from the other side of the world…..it`s a difficult one ☹

Promise to be cheerier next time

PP xx

Couples and Statistics.

Over the last few weeks I have heard at least two snippets on the tv or radio on how many times the average couple has sex. The one that caught my attention was that on average a married couple has sex five times a month. If I remember correctly (perimenopausal brain fog still not lifted!) it wasn’t age specific but more in relation to how busy, tired and how many dependents were thrown into the equation. I wasn’t really listening beyond the number 5, and not in a day or a week but a MONTH! “Woooo hoooo” I thought and couldn’t wait to tell my husband! We were hitting target! What a relief! The pressure is off, and I knew he would feel the same, probably even better, if that were possible in my ecstatic moment. By the way I am convinced men stress over these stats more than women do or is that just a ruse to get us at it more! “So and so says they do IT every night” etc etc.“Really?”reply,actually thinking “Do they bollocks! Excuse my French 

But then my reaction got me thinking, especially in these perimenopausal years I am in now when I do feel less like having sex for a multitude of reasons, that why am I so pressured by statistics and what society says is a “normal” amount of times in a month, and the answer to a happy marriage?Why do I feel such a “wooohooo” moment just because we made the stats? In fact last month we might have even beat it by a few times Even more “wooohooo`s”

Then I realised that sex and statistics have been around for years and from the time we hit the age of first having sex, we are bombarded with percentages and times…

  • when we first had sex
  • how many had it under age
  • how many partners we had if any before marriage
  • percentage of brides who were virgins (try before you buy I say!)
  • how many times we had sex when we had a newborn baby
  • how many times we have sex in our 40s, 50s. 60`s and so on ….

We try and find fix it strategies so that we don’t fall behind the average number that we should be hitting. “Date Night” comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a great idea to take time out for ourselves from the hum drum of everyday life and those around us that take our attention, but sometimes it’s just not practical. Not only that, I can be faced with, and I hope I am not alone here, no excitement but that dawning moment of dread when waking up on the morning of “Date Night” and my libido has disappeared and shows no sign of returning by that night ! Cue ideas of candles, sexy lingerie and maybe even oysters! No? Maybe a bottle of red? Maybe two?  The pressure is on!

Joking aside, perhaps we should just be happy being together and not put how many times we are getting “jiggy with it” as the main indicator to how happy our marriage is. When all the stars align there is nothing better than getting intimate with each other, but if they don’t for a few weeks we don`t need to be stressing about hitting that magic number a month. Perhaps it will be 0 but next month it might be 20! (Ok bit farfetched that one but you get the idea!)

So, move over pressuring statistic gatherers, we’ll have as much or as little sex as we like !

Until the next time

PP xx

 

Essential Sleep and My Spare Room Haven.

For almost two years now my husband and I have battled with each other and within ourselves over the state of our marriage all because things changed for us sleeping together. Gone were the days when a night apart seemed for ever and lust was in abundance and well, lustful! Sharing a bed and getting a good night’s sleep was becoming an absolute nightmare for so many reasons. They’re coming don’t worry! I want to see if anyone else relates to any at this time of life.

Separate beds, let alone separate rooms, was a slippery slope to doom and gloom to us for our marriage and the thought of it was giving us so much angst. It was something you did in your eighties when teeth needed removing or oxygen tanks maneuvering surely? Until two weeks ago that is, when we came to a unanimous decision to stop fighting each other and ourselves and accept the inevitable, make the spare room fancy schmanzty and one of us move in Sunday night until Thursday night for everyone’s sanity. And that one was me. I will get to that bit too and why it wasn`t “The Snorer”. Nearly ten nights in, we are already more refreshed and excited for another weekend rendezvous!! Keeping the fire alive is no joke when you are both knackered and resentful.

Going back briefly to when we met in our twenty’s, I could sleep through anything pretty much, which always amazed my future husband. He just could not get it that I hardly moved for eight hours straight and was quite envious at this strange phenomenon. Move on a few decades and all that changed as I headed into my forties and the perimenopause and all it brings to cause insomnia. (I won`t re hash that as it is all in my previous post “Hello 2am!”) and I was becoming the most agitated, foul tempered person, just at the thought of sharing a bed because we were both so sleep deprived and really because of each other and that was proving hard to accept.

So what were the reasons it was becoming so difficult? In no specific order and sometimes multiple times! :-

Snoring

What happens to men in their forties? Why do they become so snorey? My husband sounds like a drill that starts off slow and then goes full throttle. This can either wake me up out of nowhere and then insomnia starts and I can`t get back to sleep for a few hours or it starts to rumble as I am drifting off and I get what I call “Snore Anxiety” because I am on edge that he is going to snore and then can`t sleep. I can honestly feel my heart rate increase at every sound he makes. I have tried a few options. Exclaiming “Oh for God’s Sake” (or worse), nudging (ok shoving), earplugs (they don’t work so save your money), holding his nose (I know really mean that one but strangely satisfying!) and eventually throwing myself out of bed and storming off to the spare room. He was oblivious to it all so all dramatics were wasted.

Toilet Trips

So apparently from middle age onward, the wall of our bladder begins to thin so we need to wee more, especially at night it seems in our case. It`s bad enough and so annoying if someone needs to go, but in mid slumber and darkness, it is easy to stub your toe (and yell), turn on a light or god forbid flush the loo (we have an ensuite) and then the other poor soul is awake. I can`t blame my husband for this one as I do it too and probably more (cougar syndrome!). No point trying to deny you need to go either I have found. It just prolongs the inevitable.

Tossing and Turning

My husband will put his hand up and say this one is all him. I don`t really move even when lying there awake for hours, but he does what we had in the early days fondly named “humphing”. He tosses and turns and makes “humphing” noises (in between snoring) and suddenly I wake up with his face right in mine doing a great impression of a heavy breather. I am not so fond anymore That sends me off into the spare room too. As there is no hope at that point. He is not one I can budge, even an inch.

Passing Ships

Unlike our early years we have completely different patterns of when we need to get up and go to sleep. Gone are the days of a midweek romantic meal and wine, some rumpy pumpy , blissful cuddles and dreams until the 7am alarm. Now he needs to be up at 4.45am for a 7am start an hour from home and so he needs to be in bed at 9pm. At which point I am usually walking through the door from picking up our youngest from gymnastics. I then want to unwind. I do come up, be very careful not to wake him and then 6 hours after I hopefully nod off (with a 2am insominia interlude) his alarm is yelling, “It is 4,45am” (speaking clocks should be banned). Do I get up or nod off for a few hours of restless weird morning dream sleep (I always get weird dreams in those pre-waking hours, I wonder if it is a thing?) leaving me groggier still.

So all this, as much as I have tried to make light of it ,has been leaving us absolutely knackered in the day and rather resentful of each other, yet determined to stick at it until “death do us part” because surely it is wrong not to share a bed as a married couple? But then we said, “Well is it wrong?’ Only society tells us it isn`t normal and there is a stigma attached to it and there is always the old couples who preach they haven`t slept a night apart. And I think that is wonderful. It warms my heart. But times have changed. Life has changed. Sometimes it is so fast you just want to get off let alone sleep a night uninterrupted to re charge for the next day. Sleep, to both of us, is absolutely crucial to functioning properly on a daily basis. We were spending the weekend catching up on sleep rather than enjoying family time and having a laugh together. We needed this compromise.

So in the end that was the decision we reached, that we would sleep separately for five nights a week and enjoy those two nights together on the weekend when I am not in at 9pm and he is not up at 4.45am. OK, it might not be all plain sailing, I might have to hold his nose once in a while, but we are looking forward to it and right now, we have a kiss, wish each other goodnight with a smile because we are gong to sleep without waking each other up all night. There`s no morning grumbles because we don`t see each other and I have a nice blissful fancy schmanzty room to watch The Crown in peace 😊

Until the next pondering

PP xx

PS. I took the spare room, so he can use the ensuite in the morning in peace and quiet without disturbing the rest of us! And I get to share a bathroom with my very clean, anti boys and their smells, daughter ( she`s eleven, say no more!) I read somewhere once that the way to a successful marriage was to have separate sinks, well we are taking that to another level and I think we might be onto something! 😉